Curse of the Mistwraith continually takes turns that leave the reader excited and lost.
With a style that mimics Tolkien in its scope and detail, but with its own air of mysticism and depth, Curse of the Mistwraith is Janny Wurts entry into the Wars of Light and Shadow.
Probably best known for her random collaboration with Raymond E. Feist, Wurts began introducing readers to the Wars of Light and Shadow in 1993. Since then another seven books have been released, with two more scheduled to be released over the next few years.
Curse of the Mistwraith opens up the world of Athera, the final destination for half-brothers Lysaer and Arithon, raised apart, one a princeling and another a pirate bastard. Cast through their home's Worldsend Gate, they arrive on Athera in fulfilment of a prophecy that will rid the world of the fog of the Mistwraith.
The breadth of Wurts' story is really quite phenomenal, and unlike many books, reading Curse of the Mistwraith never stops to hint at the fact that the story is going to be longer than just one book. Many authors limit themselves to telling stories that, if need be, can be encapsulated within one book, and while this may be true for Wurts' future books as well, having just finished Curse I want nothing more than to continue reading her work.
The story, for the most part, kept my involvement fully. It flagged a little in the middle, and fell prey to small examples of rote storytelling towards the end. Nevertheless, on the whole, Curse of the Mistwraith is a prime example of fantasy writing at its best.
The world of Athera is magnificent. Unicorns and Centaur once roamed the land, but are now lost. Mages attempt to bring balance and healing to a land despising of them. Sorceresses strive against the mages with their own ambitions, and the people are happy to be rid of royalty altogether.
However with the coming of Lysaer and Arithon, royal blood once again walks on Athera's soil, and is set to bring the entire world to its knees.
Curse of the Mistwraith continually takes turns that leave the reader excited and lost. But not in a bad way; there are only so many books you can read where you know exactly what will happen before boredom sets in. With Wurts', you are forever left guessing at the turn of events.
One aspect of the book that I loved was Arithon's love and gift of music. So often fantasy characters revert to two dimensional fighters and lovers; it is refreshing to see someone with more in their life. And as for Lysaer, while at times his personality is a frustration to read through, especially when the story is being told from his point of view, he provides the perfect juxtaposition to Arithon.
Janny Wurts is one name that you will have heard of, and for good reason. She's talented, creative, and passionate about her storytelling. I am eagerly anticipating getting my hands on the following books in the Wars of Light and Shadow series.
Review by Joshua S Hill
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